TWU’s Dr. Kevin Schut takes on video gaming, explores how the digital world captivates our moral imagination

“As in all areas of life, when we play and when we critique video games, our Savior calls us to combat that which makes us less human, less whole, and less healthy, and to cultivate that which brings healing, creativity, and shalom.”
 
— Dr. Kevin Schut, Professor of Media + Communication, author of Of Games and God


UPCOMING EVENT
Join Media Studies scholar Dr. Kevin Schut as he discusses our media ecology and how it interacts with the stories and narrative worlds created by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Written at the dawn of broadcast technology, their creations nevertheless still captivate a world filled with video games; how, exactly, do these things mesh together?

Inklings Institute Conversation Group – Media & Myth: the Inklings and the Digital World

October 21, 2021 7:00 p.m.  |   Glass Room, Norma Marion Alloway Library TWU

Please RSVP to Monika.Hilder@twu.ca for in-person attendance or for the zoom link.


There are cultural environments that many of us live and breathe in everyday, yet few stop to look at them with a critical lens.

These environments are what make up media ecology.

TWU’s Dr. Kevin Schut helps people to think critically about video gaming, and our interaction with popular media. As a media scholar, he studies how society’s tools of communication shape human thinking and behaviour.

“We live within, participate in, help shape, and are shaped by media,” he explains.

Dr. Schut writes in his book Of Games and God that media has the power to “indirectly mold the way we think and what we value and pay attention to as a culture.”
 

He challenges readers to think seriously about the influence of media – not merely through simplistic evaluations of “good” or “bad,” but rather, to consider what is gained or lost when we use media.

“We have a moral imperative to judge the strengths and weaknesses of our media environment,” he writes.

As the founder of TWU’s first Game Development program, Dr. Schut brings a perspective to media scholarship that is rare – the integration of faith.

In fact, Dr. Schut’s research and writing often wrestles with the interaction between Christian beliefs and popular media.

In an article in The Inklings and Culture: A Harvest of Scholarship, Dr. Schut “tests” video games against Christian authors J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and their vision for healthy humanity. He considers whether the theological vision of Inklings authors, who write in pre-broadcast times, is transferrable to the modern digital era, and in what ways.  

Could unchanging biblical truths, for example, relate to the ever-changing, interactive nature of video gaming?
 

Dr. Schut highlights the creative, open-ended nature of today’s media, in comparison with previous eras of print or broadcast mediums. Unlike readers of a printed text, players in a game are invited to manipulate their environment and circumstances, and in essence, to co-create the story’s outcome.

Does the freedom, playfulness and interaction of a gaming world have similarities with a Christian’s faith journey?

“A growing body of video games engages religion, spirituality, and morality in an interesting and challenging manner. And even when the ideas the video game espouses are problematic, they can encourage the player to grapple with important issues and perspectives,” Dr. Schut observes in Of Games and God.

He follows up with a challenge to Christians, to evaluate thoughtfully their engagement with media, writing, “As in all areas of life, when we play and when we critique video games, our Savior calls us to combat that which makes us less human, less whole, and less healthy, and to cultivate that which brings healing, creativity, and shalom.”
 

Dr. Kevin Schut is Professor of Media + Communication, Chair of the Department of Media + Communication, and the Game Development Program Lead. His research uses video games to investigate the intersection of communication, technology, and culture. He has published articles and chapters on video games and history, games and mythology, and evangelical involvement with video games. 


See also — Young learners discover how to code and program robots at TWU's ReBoot coding camp:​
 
TWU News


About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries, please contact: media@twu.ca


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